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The canteen was a university-operated snackbar and small convenience store that was located on the fifth level of the Johnstone Hall complex, in the Union area, directly underneath the Loggia. As originally constructed in 1954, both it and the main entrances to Harcombe Commons dining hall faced a concrete assembly area for the still-military college. This area was dug out in the mid-1970s for construction of the Student Government offices and the Union gamerooms.

The canteen offered standard hamburger, hotdog and soft drink fare. A popular order was the "suicide", a half-cola, half-lemon-lime mix that seemed to enhance the carbonation. Breakfast orders were also served, and it was Tiger Band tradition for many years to go get breakfast there after Saturday morning practice on game days. In the days before ATMs, the canteen was one of the few places available to cash a check on campus (another being the student bank at the Bursar's Office in Sikes Hall). Some school supplies and garb were available from the dry goods counter. A jukebox was on the premises, and a television was mounted on the south end of the dining area. The first commercial video game to appear in the area arrived in the winter of 1975 when an Atari Pong game was installed in the canteen.

By the 1980s, the military school-heritage canteen had become outdated, an anachronism left from another era in school history, and it was eventually closed as the long-time managers aged and retired. The space was farmed out to the contract companies and remodelled into the eatery it is today. It is managed as part of Aramark's campus dining services.

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